Children’s book author Ronald Smith virtually visited students in grades 5-8.
He is the author of five published novels including Hoodoo, which won the American Library Association's Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent and Black Panther: The Young Prince, which was published for Marvel Comics and follows the life of a young T’Challa. Mr. Smith talked to the classes about his writing process and answered insightful questions from his audience.
Growing up, Mr. Smith’s family moved frequently, living in various air bases across the country, and the first thing he did when he moved to a new town was to find the library. “I loved fantasy and science fiction,” he said. “The librarians always had good recommendations for me.” Some of his favorite books as a youngster like Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia series, would also later influence his writing, like his novel The Mesmerist. But he also wanted to see people like himself reflected in literature. “I didn’t see African Americans get to be the hero,” he said. “Everyone should see themselves in a story and get to be the hero.”
One student asked, “What inspired you to write spooky books?” Mr. Smith explained that he felt it came from wanting to face his fears. For instance, he had a fear of aliens and his novel The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away, was in response to that.
Another student asked how he handled character development. “You want the characters to feel real to people,” he explained. “What do they want? What do they fear? These kinds of traits bring characters to life and allow people to relate to them.”
He also encouraged students to pursue their dreams: “Whatever you want to do in life, just go for it. Practice hard and take it seriously. I was able to turn my hobby, what I love to do, into my profession.”
When asked which one of his books he would go into if he could, Mr. Smith quickly answered, “Wakanda forever!”
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